Feature & Follow (June 29) – Birthday Character Surprise

Welcome to the Feature & Follow Hop, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read!

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! I’d love it if you could follow via one of the options in my sidebar (LinkyFollowers, Networked Blogs, email or RSS). Be sure to let me know your follow method in the comments so I can return the favor!

I’ve also got a snazzy button you can grab. If you wanted to put it on your blog, that’d be groovy.

Today’s question is:

Q: Birthday Wishes — Blow out the candles and imagine what character could pop out of your cake…who is it and what book are they from??

Again, I need to point out that I am an adult who reads YA. Most characters in the books I read are teenagers. It would semi creepy for me to request that a teenager pop out of my cake, because…yeah.

Although really, it would be weird for me to request anyone to jump out of my cake, because I’m happily married with small kids, and I don’t know many married people with kids who like people jumping out of their birthday cakes.

But that is a super-boring answer. So let’s just put that aside for a moment.

Also, comics are kinda like books, right?

Sooooo…

I pick Hawkeye. Who will be shooting arrows (preferably not at me). So there.

[P.S. This question is oddly appropriate, because the 29th is my brother's birthday. And although I'm assuming he would not want Hawkeye jumping out of his cake, I am still wishing him a happy birthday. So happy birthday bro!]

Throwback Thursday (June 28) – The Hobbit

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can put up a Throwback Thursday post on your non-bookish blog; or if you don’t have a blog at all, just use the comments to tell us about a book you remember fondly.

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Feel free to grab the Throwback Thursday button code from the sidebar to use in your posts.

Thanks for participating, and we look forward to seeing which books you choose to remember!

My Throwback this week is…

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I know what you’re thinking. Hasn’t everyone read The Hobbit? Why on earth would I feature a book everyone’s already read?

Well, the answer is twofold. One, everyone has not read it (gasp!). I know. It’s amazing, but true. I’ve even met some of them.

And second, even if everyone had already read it (which they haven’t), it’s still worth featuring, because it’s so old that no one features it anymore. Everyone just assumes everyone else has already read it.

If you’re living in a hole in the ground* and don’t know what The Hobbit is about, it is the story of Bilbo Baggins, who lives a quiet life in his Hobbit hole in the Shire, right up until a wizard named Gandalf and a group of dwarves show up on his doorstep and ask him to take part in an adventure.

What follows is a truly fabulous adventure, full of elves, goblins, trolls, and magic, as Bilbo and his companions journey through Middle Earth to rid the dwarves’ home in the Lonely Mountain of the fearsome dragon Smaug.

The Hobbit is a beautiful sweeping fantasy featuring a host of amazing and wonderful characters. It is in turns humorous, exciting, touching, and frightening.

It’s also a much easier read than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien’s language is simpler, and the story isn’t nearly as broad or complex, so it can be understood by people of all ages.

As a matter of fact, my husband recently started reading it to our 6-year-old daughter, and she loves it so far. Especially the rhyming dwarf names.

If you’ve never given The Hobbit a chance, I urge you to try it. It’s a beautiful and enchanting story.

And if you have read The Hobbit (as I suspect most of you have), now would be a perfect time for a re-read, just in time for the movie to be released in December! Look, here’s the trailer, and it looks awesome.

*Yes, that was just a Hobbit pun

Link up your Throwback Thursday post below!

Top Ten Tuesday (June 26) – Characters I Think I Know in Real Life

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, where the terrific team over at The Broke and the Bookish give us excuses to make lists and indulge our inner OCD tendencies.

I’ve got to be honest, guys. I looked at the topic for this week, and I just about skipped it, because I’ve got nothing.

But then I was sad, because Top Ten Tuesday is my favorite meme, and I always enjoy coming up with my lists and seeing what others come up with. Plus, I’ve seen Galaxy Quest enough times that “Never give up, never surrender” is kind of emblazoned on my psyche, so admitting defeat wasn’t really an option.

The good news is that my psyche is apparently not opposed to a bit of cheating, so I decided to tweak the topic to one I could do.

So here’s the topic I was supposed to do:

Top Ten Characters Who Remind Me Of Myself Or Someone I Know In Real Life

Yup, complete blank. Part of the problem is that most of what I read is YA, and I am just…A. But even if I think of myself and my friends from back when I was in the YA age bracket, I still came up blank. Not a lot of authors tend to write books featuring characters who enjoy Star Trek and Scrabble. Comic books, maybe, but that’s probably because characters in books are on the verge of developing superpowers, and my friends and I never developed superpowers. So. This topic wasn’t going to work for me.

Here’s the one I’ve decided to do instead:

Top Ten Characters I Think I’d Have Been Friends With If We Went to High School Together

(That’s close enough, right?)

1. Hermione GrangerHarry PotterI was a big nerd and a squeaky clean kid. So was Hermione. We would either have been BFFs or arch nemeses, because that’s the way it works with smart kids.

2. Simon, The Mortal InstrumentsI have only read the first book in this series, but Simon was my favorite and I could totally see us hanging out and not wanting to go to clubs together.

3. Kent McFuller, Before I FallI can’t say anyone I was friends with in high school actually wore a bowler hat, but I still think that Kent would have fit right in.

4. Angela, TwilightShe’s sweet and soft-spoken and kind of hangs back while her friends arm wrestle for attention. I can relate to that.

5. Peeta, The Hunger GamesOkay, it’s highly probable that Peeta would be too cool to be my friend because he’d probably be on the football team or something like that, and not in the marching band with me, but I’m going to hold out hope that we’d be buds.

 6. Chuck, The Maze RunnerGranted, we will probably never know what Chuck was like before the Maze, but he seems like the kind of kid I would have joked with in study hall.

7. Kate, Die For Me. Assuming her parents never died and she never moved to Paris and never fell for the undead Vincent, we’d probably have gotten along pretty well. She’s quiet and bookish and not one for large groups of people, and that was pretty much me in high school.

8. Beth, Little WomenI love Jo and all, but Beth is the one I think I would have clicked with. She was probably the type that was quiet in groups, especially when there were strong personalities present (like, you know, every other member of her family), but was lots of fun one-on-one. Some of my best friends are like that.

9. Inigo Montoya, The Princess BrideI’ll admit this one is probably just wishful thinking, but wouldn’t it be great to be friends with teenage Inigo? Maybe he’d have been an exchange student. I never actually befriended any exchange students, but I probably would have if Inigo was one.

10. Marlee, The SelectionBecause honestly, Marlee would have been friends with everyone in high school.

So there you go. Sorry I cheated.

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I’ve been hearing fabulous things about Graceling by Kristin Cashore for some time now. It consistently pops up on “favorites” lists all across the blogosphere, along with its companions, Fire and Bitterblue, which in and of itself made me curious. Add to that the fact that its YA fantasy, which is a genre I actually haven’t read much of (most of the fantasy I read is adult), and I knew I’d need to read it ASAP.

The Plot

Katsa is a Graceling, identifiable from a young age because of her two different-colored eyes. But instead of a harmless Grace, such as painting or swimming, Katsa is Graced with killing. She first killed a man with her bare hands when she was eight years old, and has since been used by her uncle the king as an assassin and thug.

However, Katsa yearns to be more than just a killer, so she joins forces with a secret Council of citizens who have banded together to seek out and stop injustice. It is on a mission for the Council that she meets Po, the prince of a neighboring kingdom, and also a Graced fighter. Katsa is wary of Po, but as they grow closer through their sparring, the two soon become friends.

Then Po requests Katsa’s help on solving the mystery of his grandfather’s kidnapping. And as Katsa and Po search for the truth, they discover a terrifying secret that could affect the future of the entire Seven Kingdoms.

My Thoughts

I can see why Graceling is so well-loved by so many people. The writing is fantastic, and the world-building exquisite. I love the idea of this fantasy world where certain people have what essentially amounts to mutant powers. The notion of the different-colored eyes marking the Graced is great, as is the exploration of how the inhabitants of the different kingdoms view the Graced. In one kingdom, the Graced are honored, where in another, they are shamed. It’s a very subtle look at prejudices and stereotypes woven throughout the plot, and how those perceptions impact an individual’s self-image, and I thought it was very well done.

The plot was also lovely. I enjoyed the action, and although I’ve read several reviews that thought the pacing was slow and the length ponderous, I thought it moved rather quickly. Maybe that’s because most of the fantasy I read is adult. This book was certainly longer than a lot of YA fare, but I thought the length was justified by the story.

Po was a fantastic character. I liked him immediately. I loved that he was nuanced and flawed, and I was surprised along with Katsa when new facts were revealed about him. There are certain parts of the book where Po is not present, and while they are extremely exciting and tense, I was still slightly distracted wishing Po was there. It’s always fun when a book makes me actually miss a character when he’s not around.

I also loved the character of Princess Bitterblue, who is the focal point of one of the companion novels. While she was a child, I admired her attitude and spunk, and I enjoyed reading about her.

I did have a few issues with the book, and these were just matters of preference, not of the storytelling or the writing. I was not a huge fan of Katsa. I understood why she was the way she was, and I definitely acknowledge that she is a far cry from many of the helpless damsels in distress that are abundant in YA literature. However, her extremely guarded and untrusting nature didn’t make her a character I really enjoyed reading about. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the story that she was involved in, I just didn’t really enjoy her. And although she does exhibit some growth during the course of the book, it wasn’t enough to make me really like her by the end.

I also was a bit let down by the climax of the book (which actually occurs several chapters before the ending). It seemed kind of lacking after so much build-up. Now, I’m not entirely sure how it could have been done better or differently; I just know that after I finished reading it, my thought was, “Oh, that was it?”

However, as an overall story, Graceling excelled. And considering neither of the companion novels focus on Katsa, I’m extremely interested in reading more about this beautiful fantasy world and the amazing characters that populate it.

Content Guide: Contains lots of fighting/violence/killing, sexual situations, implications of child and animal abuse.

Feature & Follow (June 22) – Book I’d “Unread”

Welcome to the Feature & Follow Hop, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read!

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! I’d love it if you could follow via one of the options in my sidebar (LinkyFollowers, Networked Blogs, email or RSS). Be sure to let me know your follow method in the comments so I can return the favor!

I’ve also got a snazzy button you can grab. If you wanted to put it on your blog, that’d be groovy.

Today’s question is:

If you could “unread” a book, which one would it be? Is it because you want to start over and experience it again for the first time? Or because it was THAT bad?

Okay, this question was oddly hard for me. I started to approach it from the “book that was so bad I’d want to unread it” angle, but honestly, I’m pretty picky in what I read. I don’t read a lot of bad books. And those I do read are not so bad that I completely regret the time I spent reading them. Normally, even when I don’t like a book, I’m still glad that I read it to know I didn’t like it.

So I’m going to come at it from the angle of awesome. What book was just so amazing that I wish I could re-read it again, for the first time? (BTW: The obvious answer here is Harry Potter, but I’m going to try to think outside the box).

I tried to think of a book that I not only thoroughly enjoyed the first time through, but that contained an element that simply could not be experienced the same way in a re-read. A book that managed to knock my socks off and make me yell or jump or stay up way past my bedtime because I needed to finish.

And this is a pretty recent release, but it meets all of the above qualifications. In spades.

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen is the first book of the Ascendance Trilogy. It’s a mid-grade fantasy about a group of boys reluctantly training to impersonate a prince. And it’s phenomenal.

I was happily enjoying this book the first time I read it, and then all of a sudden it blew my mind. And while I wanted to re-read it again immediately after finishing, the experience wouldn’t have been the same as that first time.

[VAGUE SPOILERS FROM RANDOM OLD MOVIES TO FOLLOW]

 

 

 

It’s like knowing that Malcolm was dead the whole time.

It’s like knowing why Andy wanted the rock hammer and the poster.

It’s like knowing who Keyser Söze is.

It’s like knowing what’s in the box???

It’s like knowing he never left the bank.

It’s like knowing that he is Tyler Durden.

 

 

 

[END VAGUE SPOILERS]

It’s just not the same the second time.

For my full (glowing) review of The False Prince, go here.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’m excited to see what you picked as your “unread” book (either so I can have the awesome first-time reading experience, or so I can avoid it like the plague, depending on how you approached the question).

(Bonus points if you can name all those movies)